Last week, my husband and I took a cruise to celebrate our anniversary. We love traveling together and enjoy being on a cruise ship. This year, we choose to travel on one of the largest ships in the sea. It was massive and had a number of features we had not experienced on previous cruises.
One of my favorite features was finding art in every stairwell, landing and hallway. Each piece of art was curated from a different part of the world. They covered countless countries and cultures. With the luxury of free time, I stopped at different pieces to read about the artist and his/her inspiration.
Each piece took on a new meaning when the artist’s background and what they hoped their work would bring to mind was explained.
Context changes everything.
Unfortunately, context is rarely obvious at first glance. We have to dig deeper to understand the context behind a piece of art. We have to do some research to understand the context of quotes or religious scriptures. We have to build relationships and ask questions to understand the context of human lives, actions and emotions.
I left our trip wanting to work harder to understand the context surrounding the lives of the people around me. It is hard to serve people well if I don’t truly know them.
Here are a few questions I plan to ask more frequently (when appropriate).
- How did the place you are from shape who you are today?
- What are the one or two most defining moments in your life to date? And why?
- What is something people think about you that isn’t true?
- How close is the life you live today from the life you want to live?
These questions may be too personal to ask in some relationships. Don’t be alarmed or offended. Do feel privileged if someone is willing to share any of these answers with you. Clearly, they trust you.
Which question do you think reveals the most about a person?
What a great month! In just the last few weeks, I had Mother’s Day, my wedding anniversary and last night we celebrated the 10th wedding anniversary of family friends. It was a joyous expression of their love and commitment. So much so that my feet are still hurting from all the dancing.
Anniversaries give us a time to honor the important milestones in our lives. We could let these days pass by unmarked, but by celebrating them we renew our gratitude for the original gift. On my anniversary, I was celebrating with my husband but I was also thanking God for sending him into my life. So the physical celebration was between the two of us, but the gratitude was between me and God.
Here are 4 anniversaries you may not be celebrating now, but should consider. This doesn’t have to be an outward celebration. Truthfully, nobody other than you even needs to know about it. You can just set a day to remind yourself to be especially grateful because that’s what an anniversary is all about. Letting more gratitude into your heart WILL motivate you to serve others more.
Four new anniversaries worth celebrating
- The day you gave up something that wasn’t serving your life anymore. Was it a substance you were abusing? Was it an unhealthy attachment to someone? A compulsion to outspend your means? A job you hated? A life that wasn’t authentic? Either way, at one time this thing had a hold on you. And now it doesn’t. Take a day to celebrate that and thank God for seeing you through to the other side.
- The day you met a close friend. If you aren’t sure of the exact date try to agree on your best guess and celebrate that day every year. You can do it with them if you want. But this is more about you acknowledging that they are a blessing in your life. Remember on this day that there was once a time that you could not lean on them for support, but now you can.
- The day you met a teacher that changed your life. This is similar to the day you met a friend, but this person may not share a friendship with you. They may have been your boss or a high school teacher. They may have been someone you didn’t even like at the time or someone that hurt you. But if they came into your life and left you forever different (for the better) you should choose to celebrate that.
- The day you met God. Try to pinpoint the time you first felt God’s presence in your life. This is not about religion; it’s about faith. This is the day you went from “hoping” there was a God to “knowing” there is a God. This is the day your world expanded and the earliest seeds of peace, gratitude and service started growing in your life. This day changed everything. This day is truly worthy of an anniversary. Celebrate it.
What else should we be celebrating?
A. Having a broken heart
B. Loving someone with a broken heart
The answer is A.
Heartaches acute pain can pack a punch that threatens to knock out those we love. Most of us have also experienced being knocked out by its punch. And, it isn’t pretty. Valentine’s week is especially tough for the heart broken.
When someone you love has a broken heart almost everything you do for them is an act of service. This is also when your words have an incredible power to comfort, heal and uplift. Here are some things I try to say because there were times when I desperately needed to hear them.
10 Things to Say that Serve a Broken Heart
- “This is going to hurt for much longer than you hope it will. I need to tell you this so you don’t expect more from yourself than what is possible”.
- “You will likely do something desperate or embarrassing if you haven’t already. You might even do it multiple times. That’s alright. We’ve all been there.”
- “Yes, my life is busy but I have time for you.”
- “He didn’t know you. He knew a version of you in a bad relationship. That isn’t who you are in total”.
- “I want better for you. I know you miss her a lot. But you could receive so much more love than what you were getting.”
- “Be sad. You’re giving this fight to get happy again all you have. But whenever you need to take some time to be sad you shouldn’t feel bad about it.”
- “I need you in my life. He may not have needed you and that hurts, but I do.”
- “Yes, I think you’re correct. You made some mistakes. So did she. But you’ll get a chance to do better next time and I know you will.”
- “Yes, I am tired of talking about him, but I’m happy to keep doing it if it is still helping you move on. Is it?”
- “I love you and I’m not saying that to make you feel better. I really love you”.